Family of San Diego hiker details how he survived four days in the desert

Posted at 10:04 PM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-17 02:17:41-04

(KGTV) -- The brother of San Diego hiker Paul Hanks is talking about his ordeal in Joshua Tree National Park. The best news they have to share with the public - Hanks is expected to make a full recovery. 

"Sunday was his birthday, he turned 54," said Dr. Steven Hanks, his brother. "He likes to take a hike on his birthday so he had gone out to Joshua Tree National Park after spending the morning with (our) mother."

RELATED: Missing San Diego hiker found injured in Joshua Tree

The 54-year-old left San Diego on Sunday, March 11. His brother said he was reported missing on Tuesday, March 13 after he failed to show up to a meeting with his ex-wife in Las Vegas. 

Hanks' truck was found near the Maze Loop and Hanks was found by a member of the Joshua Tree Search and Rescue crew on Thursday, March 15. 

According to his son-in-law, Hanks broke his ankle and fractured his skull after falling 20 feet. He was missing for four days and buried himself in the sand to stay warm, drinking rainwater to stay hydrated until he was found.

"He had a very harrowing experience. It's a compelling story of survival and we were just stunned when they found him," Hanks' brother said. "I think he's just incredibly thankful to be alive." 

When asked if he thought the experience hiker would ever return to Joshua Tree National Park, his brother said:

"I think he'll absolutely go back. I do know if he goes back, he won't be going back without a satellite phone...a flare gun," he said, smiling. "He really thought he was going on a minimal risk venture. It was just one of those unfortunate accidents that occurred."